Outsourcing & Divestment – Employee Communications (2)

Employee communications are key to a successful outsourcing or divestment plan.

This is the second in a series of HRAskMe.com nuggets on the subject of employee communications associated with a outsourcing or divestment.

The following is NOT legal advice. Plans, communications and actions that might involve terminations or transitions of employment should only be made with appropriate legal counsel.

Basic outline:

  • Your employee communications plan must deal with WHO…WHAT…WHEN…and…HOW.
  • WHO – Define your audiences:
    • Employees directly affected by the business plan.
    • Employees indirectly affected by the business plan.
    • Customers and suppliers.
    • Potential purchasers of your divestment or new suppliers of your outsourced function.
    • Shareholders.
  • WHAT – Develop the messages for each audience:
    • Messages need to be frank but should avoid being speculative about things that are not firm. If decisions have not been made, say so. Think about describing how decisions will be made and on what principles.
    • Messages for specific audiences may be different but they must not be in conflict.
    • This means that although there may be many contributors to your employee communications plan someone must have clear oversight responsibility.
  • WHEN – Coordinate the timing of delivery to different audiences:
    • This can be a complex undertaking. For example, approaches to potential purchasers or new suppliers may well become known to your employees so be prepared and be proactive with employee communications. 
    • You need to know if your divestment or outsourcing plan may be deemed material to shareholders. Consult your Treasurer or appropriate legal counsel. Employee communications must be coordinated with any public announcements.
  • HOW – Plan for the delivery of employee communications:
    • Face to face is always better when communicating with employees who will be directly affected. Other modes of communications may be appropriate for different audiences.
    • In our view as management owns the business management should own and deliver employee communications. Important messages must be delivered with credibility and decision makers have that credibility.
    • HR experts or other staffers can be on hand to answer questions or present on specific more complex issues such as pension and benefits plans.
  • In Canada, courts have determined that the content, timing and method of communicating termination of employment can have an impact on the determination potential damages. Involve an employment lawyer in your communications planning.


Contact me at HRAskMe.mgb@gmail.com to explore this subject further.

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